Community nurse lecturers’ experiences of pre-registration nurse education: a phenomenological study
The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of community nurse lecturers in pre-registration nurse education and to gain insight into the nature of community nursing and its profile within pre-registration nursing. A qualitative phenomenological approach explored pre-registration, adult field nurse lecturers’ experiences of being community nurses and subsequently their experiences of being community nurse lecturers. Three participants audio recorded answers prompted by three questions that allowed for storytelling and prompted memory recall. The results were analysed, and the themes identified were: community nursing is vastly different to hospital nursing, with a notable heightened sense of accountability, lone working and a recognition of experience needed to be a community nurse. When reflecting on their role as lecturers, research participants recalled responses that informed the second theme: the pre-registration adult nursing curriculum was acute care focused and this was also the expectation of students. Results identified tensions between community nursing and critical care nursing, and a loss of identity to which each of them embraced in different ways.
The profile of community nursing is often hidden to the public. Subsequently, the profile of community nursing is often hidden to student nurses entering pre-registration education. This can be influenced by the media’s representation of nurses being the forefront of hospital care, as seen in TV dramas such as ‘Casualty’ and ‘Holby City’ (Lavery and Henshall, 2022). During the COVID-19 pandemic, narratives such as ‘frontline’ were used to imply that only those working in critical care wards were saving lives, while disregarding those staff working in the community, whose roles and routines were also challenged (Green et al, 2020). These assumptions are further strengthened prior to commencing a pre-registration adult nursing degree, where university marketing promotes visibly technical and practical skills associated with acute nursing on open days for adult courses, such as: passing a nasogastric tube or resuscitation of a manikin. However, skills such as health promotion, that are less easy to display, which require more expertise and are associated with community nursing, are considered to be of lower value (Warner et al, 2010; Cooper et al, 2014). Other areas that suggest the community nursing profile is hidden are the emergence of myths (White, 2019; Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), 2022) such as: choosing to work in the community setting after qualification might ‘deskill’ a student or qualified nurse; that one needs at least a year’s experience in hospital before going into district nursing; there are a limited amount of community placements compared to hospital (Byfield et al, 2019; Arnold et al, 2021). Hence, students have limited comparable experience to challenge assumptions regarding nursing in the community setting.
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